The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus. It is a fleshy stone fruit. The cherry fruits of commerce are usually obtained from a limited number of species, including especially cultivars of the wild cherry, Prunus avium.
The name 'cherry', often as the compound term 'cherry tree', may also be applied to many other members of the genus Prunus, or to all members of the genus as a collective term. The fruits of many of these are not cherries, and have other common names, including plum, apricot, peach, and others. The name 'cherry' is also frequently used in reference to cherry blossom.
True cherry fruits are born by members of the sub-genus Cerasus which is distinguished by having the flowers in small corymbs of several together (not singly, nor in racemes), and by having a smooth fruit with only a weak groove or none along one side. The subgenus is native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with two species in America, three in Europe, and the remainder in Asia.
The majority of eating cherries are derived from either Prunus avium, the wild cherry (sometimes called the sweet cherry), or from Prunus cerasus, the sour cherry.
This list contains many Prunus species that bear the common name cherry. For a complete list of these, see Prunus. Some common names listed here have historically been used for more than one species, e.g. "Rock cherry" is used as an alternative common name for both P. prostrata and P. mahaleb.
* Prunus alabamensis C. Mohr - Alabama cherry
* Prunus apetala (Siebold & Zucc.) Franch. & Sav. - Clove cherry
* Prunus avium (L.) L. - Wild cherry, Sweet cherry, Mazzard or Gean
* Prunus besseyi - Western Sand Cherry, Hansen's or Hanson's Bush Cherry, Rocky Mountain Cherry, or Bessey's cherry
* Prunus campanulata Maxim. - Taiwan cherry, Formosan cherry or Bell-flowered cherry
* Prunus canescens Bois. - Greyleaf cherry
* Prunus caroliniana Aiton - Carolina laurel cherry or Laurel cherry
* Prunus cerasoides D. Don. - Wild Himalayan cherry
* Prunus cerasus L. - Sour cherry
* Prunus cistena Koehne - Purpleleaf sand cherry
* Prunus cornuta (Wall. ex Royle) Steud. - Himalayan bird cherry
* Prunus cuthbertii Small - Cuthbert cherry
* Prunus cyclamina Koehne - Cyclamen cherry or Chinese flowering cherry
* Prunus dawyckensis Sealy - Dawyck cherry
* Prunus dielsiana C.K. Schneid. - Tailed-leaf cherry
* Prunus emarginata (Douglas ex Hook.) Walp. - Oregon cherry or Bitter cherry
* Prunus eminens Beck - German: mittlere Weichsel (Semi-sour cherry)
* Prunus fruticosa Pall. - European dwarf cherry, Dwarf cherry, Mongolian cherry or Steppe cherry
* Prunus gondouinii (Poit. & Turpin) Rehder - Duke cherry
* Prunus grayana Maxim. - Japanese bird cherry or Gray's bird cherry
* Prunus humilis Bunge - Chinese plum-cherry or Humble bush cherry
* Prunus ilicifolia (Nutt. ex Hook. & Arn.) Walp. - Hollyleaf cherry, Evergreen cherry, Holly-leaved cherry or Islay
* Prunus incisa Thunb. - Fuji cherry
* Prunus jamasakura Siebold ex Koidz. - Japanese mountain cherry or Japanese hill cherry
* Prunus japonica Thunb. - Korean cherry
* Prunus laurocerasus L. - Cherry laurel
* Prunus lyonii (Eastw.) Sarg. - Catalina Island cherry
* Prunus maackii Rupr. - Manchurian cherry or Amur chokecherry
* Prunus mahaleb L. - Saint Lucie cherry, Rock cherry, Perfumed cherry or Mahaleb cherry
* Prunus maximowiczii Rupr. - Miyama cherry or Korean cherry
* Prunus mume (Siebold & Zucc.) Ume, Japanese apricot, Chinese plum
* Prunus myrtifolia (L.) Urb. - West Indian cherry
* Prunus nepaulensis (Ser.) Steud. - Nepal bird cherry
* Prunus nipponica Matsum. - Takane cherry, Peak cherry or Japanese Alpine cherry
* Prunus occidentalis Sw. - Western cherry laurel
* Prunus padus L. - Bird cherry or European bird cherry
* Prunus pensylvanica L.f. - Pin cherry, Fire cherry, or Wild red cherry
* Prunus pleuradenia Griseb. - Antilles cherry
* Prunus prostrata Labill. - Mountain cherry, Rock cherry, Spreading cherry or Prostrate cherry
* Prunus pseudocerasus Lindl. - Chinese sour cherry or False cherry
* Prunus pumila L. - Sand cherry
* Prunus rufa Wall ex Hook.f. - Himalayan cherry
* Prunus salicifolia Kunth. - Capulin, Singapore cherry or Tropic cherry
* Prunus sargentii Rehder - Sargent's cherry or Ezo Mountain cherry
* Prunus serotina Ehrh. - Black cherry
* Prunus serrula Franch. - Paperbark cherry, Birch bark cherry or Tibetan cherry
* Prunus serrulata Lindl. - Japanese cherry, Hill cherry, Oriental cherry or East Asian cherry
* Prunus speciosa (Koidz.) Ingram - Oshima cherry
* Prunus ssiori Schmidt- Hokkaido bird cherry
* Prunus stipulacea Maxim.
* Prunus subhirtella Miq. - Higan cherry or Spring cherry
* Prunus takesimensis Nakai - Takeshima flowering cherry
* Prunus tomentosa Thunb. - Nanking cherry, Manchu cherry, Downy cherry, Shanghai cherry, Ando cherry, Mountain cherry, Chinese dwarf cherry, Chinese bush cherry
* Prunus verecunda (Koidz.) Koehne - Korean mountain cherry
* Prunus virginiana L. - Chokecherry
* Prunus x yedoensis Matsum. - Yoshino cherry or Tokyo cherry
Etymology and antiquity
The native range of the wild cherry extends through most of Europe, and the fruit has been consumed through its range since prehistoric times. A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC.
A form of cherry was introduced into England at Teynham, near Sittingbourne in Kent by order of Henry VIII, who had tasted them in Flanders.
The English word cherry, French cerise, Spanish cereza all come from the Classical Greek (κέρασος) through the Latin cerasum, thus the ancient Roman place name Cerasus, from which the cherry was first exported to Europe.
Cherries (sweet, edible parts) Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 263 kJ (63 kcal)
Carbohydrates 16 g
Sugars 13 g
Dietary fibre 2 g
Fat 0.2 g
Protein 1.1 g
Vitamin C 7 mg (12%)
Iron 0.4 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Cherries contain anthocyanins, the red pigment in berries. Cherry anthocyanins have been shown to reduce pain and inflammation in rats. Anthocyanins are also potent antioxidants under active research for a variety of potential health benefits. According to a study funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute presented at the Experimental Biology 2008 meeting in San Diego, rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet did not gain as much weight or build up as much body fat, and their blood showed much lower levels of inflammation indicators that have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than the other rats.
Cherry trees also provide food for the caterpillars of several Lepidoptera. See List of Lepidoptera which feed on Prunus.
The cultivated forms are of the species wild cherry (P. avium) to which most cherry cultivars belong, and the sour cherry (P. cerasus), which is used mainly for cooking. Both species originate in Europe and western Asia; they do not cross-pollinate. Some other species, although having edible fruit, are not grown extensively for consumption, except in northern regions where the two main species will not grow. Irrigation, spraying, labor and their propensity to damage from rain and hail make cherries relatively expensive. Nonetheless, there is high demand for the fruit.
Cherries have a very short growing season and can grow in most temperate latitudes. The peak season for cherries is in the summer. In Australia they are usually at their peak around Christmas time, in southern Europe in June, in North America in June, in south British Columbia (Canada) in July-mid August and in the UK in mid July. In many parts of North America they are among the first tree fruits to ripen.